If everything goes according to plan, the building of the former Grand Hotel is likely to open as a boutique hotel in mid-2019, following proper reinforcement, repair and fitting out works are conducted on the site, the architect in charge of the project, Joy Choi Tin Tin, told Business Daily.
Ms. Choi explained that the whole renovation process will be conducted in three phases.
The first phase of the renovation consists of the work of reinforcement of the building’s foundations, which started on April 20, and for which Ms. Choi’s company hired subcontractor C. H. Construção Civil, Limitada.
The licence was issued for one year, but the preliminary work may take “approximately eight to nine months” to be completed, the architect explained. “Any engineer would have to do that before starting the renovation work proper on the so-called superstructure of the building. It’s a priority,” Ms. Choi told Business Daily.
The architect commented that work of such scope would cost close to MOP20 million, but she preferred not to disclose the exact amount of the contract because it is a matter that directly concerns the client.
She also confirmed previous reports from Business Daily that the owner of the building is International Weng Fu Investment Company Limited.
It is the first time Ms. Choi’s office – Joy Choi Architecta – has worked with C. H. Construção Civil, a local company established in 2015. But she claimed it is a reputable firm in the construction field, in addition to which it enjoys the advantage of having reinforced the foundations of a nearby building.
“That means that they have experience of similar soil conditions, and that’s actually quite important,” she claimed.
According to the architect, the “original building is very advanced . . . The foundations run 20 metres deep, which is not common for that period in time, or for that area of Macau. Mind you, we are talking about the time of the Japanese war in the Pacific.”
Work in progress
Grand Hotel is completing 80 years of existence this year.
Although an architect working with the Cultural Heritage Department of the Macau Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) explained in previous comments to Macau Business that the building was left in relatively “good condition” following initial renovation work, many years passed with much to be done, said Ms. Choi.
“The building has so many problems with the structure. Some are broken, the steel part is rusty, and some of the concrete inside is falling down. There’s a lot of damage and a lot of gaps from incomplete work done before,” she pointed out.
The second phase of the renovation, which consists of the reinforcement and repair of “the whole structure of the building” might take another half year to nine months time, according to the architect.
She also said that they still do not have an estimated budget yet because the cost will only be known when they confirm the contract for that phase.
She volunteered, however, that “the rate of renovation for hotels is usually higher than a normal, residential building. Hotels would often ask for a certain grade of quality. It also means [constructing] a lot if infrastructure.”
Central air conditioning system, and low voltage intelligence system for Internet and CCTV, for example are modern mandatories.
The architect added that the total construction area of the hotel approximates 50,000 square feet (about 4,645 square metres).
While they might engage a subcontractor for the second phase, Ms. Choi’s office has also been appointed by the client as consultant for the fitting out phase, which is the third and final phase before the hotel can start operating.
The hotel operator also has an “in-house design team,” the architect explained, adding that her office will be working with them.
Ms. Choi anticipates that it may take approximately a year for the fitting out work to be accomplished.
In the end, there is the hotel operation licence, which should be requested from Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO).
“[Getting] the licence from the tourism [office] usually takes a long time, so it’s something we will help the client to apply for, and should be done in parallel with the construction,” Ms. Choi highlighted.
Ms. Choi explained that the owner of the building is planning to open a boutique hotel although according to her it will be issued a “two-star business licence . . . [because] . . . the hotel is too small, but [the rate] is not quality related.”
The original ten-storey hotel structure accommodates 101 rooms. According to Ms. Choi, the current idea is to reduce the number of rooms in order to comply with the hotel owner’s requirements as well as current regulations related to safety and equipment use such as air conditioning, fan room, fire tank and generator.
The façade will be maintained, following previous recommendations from the Cultural Affairs Bureau.
The Grand Hotel was built in 1937, opening its doors for business in 1941.
It remained in the hands of the Fok family – under a progressively more complex system of multiple ownership reaching over 50 owners in the 2000s – until it was acquired by its current owner.
International Weng Fu started purchasing shares of the building in 2014 and completed the acquisition in 2015, according to previous reports from Macau Business.
Nearly a decade ago, when the building was still owned by the Fok family, the building had been subject to some minor strengthening of the structure in a previous renovation project conducted under the supervision of architect Carlos Couto.